Saturday, June 25, 2016

Simply a fascination .... nothing more

In 1914, German-born artist Richard Lorenz captured in oil on canvas the scene as he envisioned it had been when sunset neared on June 25, 1876, on the bluffs overlooking the Little Bighorn River in Montana. Mounted Sioux warriors departed from the battlefield where the body George Armstrong Custer and a few hundred troopers from elements of the United States Seventh Calvary lay dead in the aftermath of what became known as "Custer's Last Stand" -- which Lorenz titled his work. The painting is among the Bridgeman Art Library collection.

Welcome to "Custer Day" -- 2016 version

Some years, I mention here in a post that June 25 is the anniversary -- one-hundred fortieth anniversary this year -- since George Armstrong Custer and a few hundred troopers of the United States Seventh Cavalry literally bit the dust on a hot, humid, Sunday afternoon by the Little Bighorn River in Montana.

"Custer's Last Stand" is the usual title given to the event in which mostly Sioux, along with a few Cheyenne and Native Americans from assorted other tribes outnumbered, outweaponed, outflanked and outfought the "boy general" and the men of his command. I have written in some detail some years about this encounter, but this time I simply wish to point out that I dwell on this battle as strongly now as I have since I was a boy. The "Plains Indian Wars" -- which, from my perspective, lasted from the 1850s until Wounded Knee in 1890 -- hold me captive in the sense of absolute fascination. There is no escape from them for me.

I also have written in past posts about my "battlefield tour," during which, in pursuit of a sense of those times, I spent about six months traveling to fort to battlefield to cemetery to any historic site I could discover from Montana to Texas, while swinging widely (and, maybe, wildly) eastward and westward. At those places, I always walked and frequently ate and sometimes even slept on the grounds where the "warriors" of two worlds collided and often died.

I also have written in past posts about an ancestor who fought in the American Civil War, who came back to his homeland to chase the Sioux from Minnesota to North Dakota as a volunteer "ranger" during the 1862 uprising and who, a few years later as a cavalry officer, was killed by Cheyenne in Kansas.

So it goes .... I have written about these things and, no doubt, will again and again and again. Yes, it is a fascination and, I suppose, always will be for me. At least, it is not an obsession .... I am saving that for .... for .... hmmmm ....

Addendum #1: If you are reading this brief note, it means I am not home. I scheduled this post last weekend to run on "Custer Day," and I have been away from home most of the week. I left home uncertain if I would be back by Saturday or not. Not, as the presence of this note confirms, turned out to be the case. Sunday, now, probably. I undoubtedly am late/behind with comments and communications, and will strive to catch up in a day or two -- theoretically.

Addendum #2: If you never have looked to the right side of this page and noticed the segment entitled, "Important stuff .... really," it may (or may not) interest you to look now and even to look further within it. I seldom do anything simply for the sake of doing it, and there is reason for these entries. I have been including them because, as is said, blood is thicker than water, and one of those individuals mentioned in all of these pieces qualifies as direct descent blood. I assume, as I frequently say, you catch my drift.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Message to Obama .... turn 'em loose & fix it

Baby, what a mess ….

There are two things going on here with this "sort of post:"

One is that after listening via television to Barack Obama speak on Thursday in Orlando, Florida, I was ready to puke. To blame the forty-nine shot dead and more than fifty more wounded at a nightclub there last weekend on guns, mental derangement and people who politically disagree with him was an act of cowardice and moral bankruptcy.
Those deaths were the act of a dedicated, determined, religious fanatic -- plain and simple. He could just as easily have walked into the nightclub with a bomb strapped to his chest as he did with a rifle and a pistol, and caused the same carnage. As one news commentator put it, Obama's words were the equivalent of blaming automobiles for the deaths of people caused by drunk drivers. Obama really is shallow as a man and pathetic as a president.

The next item here is me. I have been in a conspicuously melancholy mood for a while now. As should be evident from elements of my blog, I am a once-upon-a-time Marine. It is common practice to say once a Marine, always a Marine. Perhaps, that is why, for a few days now, I have been watching Marine Corps motivational videos on the internet. I need to "psyche myself up" one way or another, so I have been looking backward trying to find the future.

The first video is not spectacular, but it makes a point: The Marine Corps -- the combined forces of the United States military -- could eradicate the immediate terrorist problem if only there were a president who would be more interested in the security of the U.S. and in the safety of helpless people in places like Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan than he is in political correctness and trying to salvage a failed legacy.

The second video is motivational, for me, anyway. It and others like it give me memory, bring my past to the present; push me, pull me, again like a eighteen-year-old boot never to say never. They furnish me with focus and clarity. Some of the language in it is, in Marine jargon, a bit "salty," so be prepared. Whatever .... elements of this video and a few dozen others are helping to snap me out of my personal doldrums. We shall see where it all leads .... semper fi ....

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When chair dancing becomes stool dancing

Who, what, when, where, why .... & how

Words written by journalist & novelist
Frederick Forsyth
from his memoir:
"The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue" -- 2015

"A journalist should never join the Establishment, no matter how tempting the blandishments. It is our job to hold power to account, not join it. In a world that increasingly obsesses over the gods of power, money and fame, a journalist and a writer must remain detached, like a bird on a rail, watching, noting, probing, commenting but never joining. In short, an outsider."

Monday, June 13, 2016

Remember back when I would write about "chair dancing" to a song ?? Time to crank up both the music and the imagination again !!

I am becoming lost in music & night dreams ....

Vincent, the passenger in a yellow taxi cab,
speaking to Max, the driver of the cab,
in the motion picture: "Collateral" -- 2004

"Your business 'plan?' Someday?  'Someday my dream'll come .... ?'

"And one night you'll wake up and discover it all flipped on you. Suddenly you're old. And it didn't happen. And it never will. 'Cause you were never going to do it, anyway. The dream on the horizon became yesterday and got lost. Then you'll bullshit yourself, it could never have been, anyway. And you'll recede it into memory .... and zone out in a Barcalounger with daytime TV on for the rest of your life ....

"Don't talk to me about killing. You're do-in' yourself. In this yellow-and-orange prison. Bit by bit. Every day."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Do you have plans for this evening?

A one-act play: Did I mention ??

Last Saturday, my son saw Boston in concert. Last Sunday, one of my daughters saw Bob Dylan in concert. My progeny know what they are doing and how to enjoy life. So do I ....

A year or two ago (time flies), I wrote in a post that it would be fantastic to be wandering through Italy near Lajatico in Tuscany and to arrive at the Teatro del Silenzio on the one evening each year in July when Andrea Bocelli performs there.

Well, it did not happen.

But, as fate and good fortune would decree (Freyja favors me), while I did not travel to Italy at that point in time, at this point in time Bocelli will be performing this evening fewer than twenty miles / thirty minutes away from me in downtown Minneapolis.

Want to come?

You cannot? You already have a date?
All right, but never say I did not ask you.

It will be ok .... I probably will be able to concentrate more on the music that way .... without you there with me, I mean ....

Well, maybe we can meet in Warsaw in a couple of weeks for his concert there .... or at the Teatro del Silenzio this July ....

The only thing better than seeing Bocelli sing would be seeing him sing twice ....

Monday, June 6, 2016

D-Day .... Normandy, France .... June 6, 1944

As I mentioned somewhere in the Memorial Day post -- either in the commentary or the comments -- I had pulled out two photographs taken in 2004 at the D-Day invasion sites at Normandy in France .... not photographs from the American cemetery as I had done a few times in the past, but from Omaha Beach, where the bloodiest fighting took place and the most men died. One photograph ran on Memorial Day and here is the second, on the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, invasion.

I had a family member there, but he was fortunate and did not land until the third day when the fighting had moved inland. That did not ultimately save him, though. He was later killed in the Netherlands, never to see his home again. Another family member arrived at that beach in September and, by the time the war in Europe ended in May 1945, had rolled across France and Belgium and Germany and into the country then known as Czechoslovakia as a tanker with George Patton's Third Army. His unit was the first to arrive at one of the Nazi concentration camps. He lived well past the war, but never really survived it.

I will not recite the history of the D-Day invasion because anyone who actually is curious can learn pretty much all there is to know in terms of "book learning" by traveling only a few strokes on a computer keyboard. I will note, though, the flags flying in the photograph are among several flown there commemorating the nations which participated in the invasion along several beaches of the Normandy coastline. These are the French, English, Dutch and Norwegian flags.

And, I will add a few words about the music: "Hymn to the Fallen," was composed by John Williams for the film, "Saving Private Ryan." The individual who put together this video did marvelous work linking the piece to photographs of a number of cemeteries for American war dead scattered around the world –- including some in France near the D-Day landing sites at Normandy. Tempted as I am to utter a few political comments, I will refrain and only say these lives were given as part of the struggle to make the earth a better place for all of us.

So, I will paraphrase and revise a bit from a sentence among those I wrote last week on Memorial Day: Have a good day, remembering those who came before us and made it possible for we Americans and many others to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And, this we do in relative safety and security and comfort because there are some yet today who still stand in constant vigil -- prepared to defend to the death your freedom.

Something special ....